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Seven-times Tour de France [Images] winner Lance Armstrong's [Images] return to competitive cycling will not erase doping allegations that have dogged his career, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Dick Pound said on Wednesday.
- Lance Armstrong: Fallen Icon?
Pound, who had a long-running feud with Armstrong during his time as WADA chief, was not among those impressed by the 37-year-old's comeback and said the Texan was returning to the peloton with the same doping clouds hanging over him.
"If he thinks coming back now will erase all the questions marks that are out there and been identified by the former French sports minister and Tour organisers ... he's still got all those questions out there and they remain unanswered," Pound told Reuters.
- The Great Survivor
"The comeback raises at least as many questions as it answers.
"He has yet to answer how six of his samples tested positive for EPO. The UCI (International Cycling Union) refuses to deal with it."
While Armstrong never tested positive for a banned substance, he was thrust into the doping spotlight when French newspaper L'Equipe reported that six urine samples provided during the 1999 Tour showed traces of the banned blood-boosting agent EPO (erythropoietin).
An independent investigation later cleared Armstrong of any doping violations and accused anti-doping authorities of violating testing rules.
While announcing his comeback, Armstrong acknowledged the doping allegations that have continued to dog him and unveiled a rigorous, independent testing programme developed and headed up by U.S. anti-doping expert Don Catlin that he will undergo during his return to competition.
"I think this will be the most advanced anti-doping programme in the world," Armstrong told reporters. "I've won the event (Tour de France) seven times and I know there's been some controversy over some of those victories.
"I would ask and refer people to the independent commission that cleared up the issues of 1999.
"I would also remind of the federal investigation in France in the year 2000 when all samples were retroactively tested and declared, I think the words were -- 'pure as the driven snow'."
Pound dismissed Armstrong's plan as irrelevant, saying it would prove little unless the testing was carried out by an IOC (International Olympic [Images] Committee) or WADA accredited lab.
"I don't know what he has in mind with Don Catlin," said Pound. "If it's not an (IOC) accredited laboratory the mere fact scientist X says 'I think Lance is ok' (means nothing).
"If he comes back and does really poorly are people going to say 'well, now he's riding clean'?
"Maybe the difference in his results will lead to a different conclusion about his earlier ones."
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